Another of those fortnights

May 29, 2011

It’s been another of those fortnights this week and the one before that and the one before that:

Monday: Home – Oamaru (sorting books for Rotary book fair) – home.

Tuesday: home – Dunedin – home.

Wednesday: home – Wanaka.

Thursday: Wanaka – Queenstown – Wanaka.

Friday: Wanaka – Millers Flat – Wanaka.

Saturday: Wanaka – home.

Sunday: home – Dunedin – home.

Monday home – Oamaru – home.

Tuesday:  home – Dunedin – Wanaka.

Wednesday:  Wanaka – Queenstown.

Thursday: Queenstown – home.

Friday: home – Christchurch (for National Party Mainland conference which I co-chaired on Saturday and Sunday).

Sunday: Christchurch – home.

Monday: home – Oamaru (more book sorting) – home – Wanaka.

Tuesday: Wanaka – Invercargill – Riverton (didn’t spot Mr Guyton) – Otahuti – home.

Wednesday: home – Christchurch – Wellington.

Friday: Wellington – Auckland.

Sunday: Auckland – Christchurch – home.

Memo to self: staying in the bar chatting  until 1am, after a National Party Northern Regional convention dinner, even when not drinking, isn’t a good idea when you have to fly back to the Mainland then drive for 3 1/2 hours the next day.

I got home an hour ago and am about to take myself to bed with the book I started reading in the plane – Joy Cowley’s Silent One.

Word of the day

May 29, 2011

Jackass – a foolish or stupid person; a blockhead; a male ass or donkey.

Not another by-election!

May 29, 2011

The headlines said: Winston staying quiet on by-election plans. The story below it began:

NZ First leader Winston Peters is keeping his cards close to his chest over whether he’ll suit up against John Banks in the Epsom by-election. . .

But if you follow the link : the story has disappearred.

Someone must have realised that it’s not another by-election. John Banks is Act’s candidate for Epsom in the general election.

Even if Epsom MP Rodney Hide resigned (and there’s absolutely no indication he will), we’re it’s less than six months to the election and parliament can agree to leave the seat vacant until the country goes to the polls on November 26.

Rural round-up

May 29, 2011

Photovoltaic energy neutral grass based dairy farms – Pasture to Profit writes:

Two grass based dairy farmers in the Pasture to Profit Network(one in Herefordshire & the other in Brittany, France) have or are about to achieve “Energy Neutral” status (with regard to electricity use on farm). Both have installed solar panels on their farm shed roofs.
Energy neutral status is where 100% of the energy that is consumed is actually generated by the farmer user. . .

Lancashire biogas plant is go – Paul at Business Blog writes:

A £3m farm-based anaerobic digestion plant in Lancashire has been officially “switched on”.

The Carr Farm plant, near Warton, will produce biogas from silage and energy crops grown on surrounding land to generate 800kW of electricity, enough to power more than 1,000 homes. . .

2010 kiwifruit season lifts return to growers:

A strong 2010 kiwifruit season has lifted total payments to growers above season forecasts, with a particular highlight being a significant boost in returns to GREEN kiwifruit growers over the 2009 season, ZESPRI’s 2010/11 financial results show.

Total returns to growers in 2010/11 improved from $849.0 million to $883.3 million compared to the prior year, an increase of four percent, with average Orchard Gate Returns to ZESPRI GREEN growers increasing nine percent to $32,234.

Net global kiwifruit sales increased one percent to $1.511 billion in 2010/11, despite the global volume of ZESPRI(r) Kiwifruit sold falling one percent in the same period. . .

Daily grind taking for the dairy farmer

The alarm clock shrills. It’s half- past-bloody-four and another farming day is under way.

At least it’s not raining, but he still needs the Swanndri. It’s cold. And actually the farm could do with some rain. Too dry; too wet. Seldom just right.

It’s a long haul to the shed from this night paddock. Always a toss-up whether to go for the best feed overnight and accept extra distance and time required in the morning.

He pressures the tailenders with the farm bike and acknowledges there are times when a dog might come in handy. The heifers at the back of the mob are playing up a bit, skirmishing across the track, head-butted by a few dominant older girls in the herd.

The lights in the shed snap on, a startling line of illumination ahead in the rural darkness, so Toni will be washing down the concrete, getting organised. . .

Hat tip: Lou at No  Minister (The comments on his post make interesting reading too).

Payout good for NZ – Sally Rae writes:

“It’s a great time to be a farmer.” South Otago farmer Stafford Ferguson was responding yesterday to Fonterra’s announcement of a record payout for the season.

Describing the news as very positive, Mr Ferguson said it was a good time to pay debt back, while the forecast third-highest payout on record for next season “just eases pressure” looking forward a year out . . .

Win from Wheelchiar special – Sally Rae again:

Grant Calder pulls no punches when he says “life in a wheelchair is a bit of a s … “.

However, he hopes his remarkable success at the recent South Island sheep dog trial championships will send a message to disabled people that “it’s not the end of the world”. . .

Find true quality? The scan man can –  more form Sally Rae:

Peter Clulee is enjoying a well-deserved break.

Mr Clulee, who operates Otago Ultrasound, doing both eye muscle and pregnancy scans on sheep, has had a hectic few months.

Since the end of January, he has been travelling the South Island doing muscle scanning, working as far north as Blenheim and right down to Southland. . .

Sir Michael Fay still milking it – Bevan Hurley writes:

Sir Michael Fay, one of the country’s richest men, has swapped the bank for the barnyard and bought a $9.2 million slice of New Zealand’s dairy heartland.

The investment banker and island owner now lists “farmer” as his occupation when filling out immigration forms. . .

Strawbwerry pav pigues US media interest


Luxury Queenstown hotelier The Rees and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have showcased the country’s fine wine and cuisine at US culinary institution The James Beard Foundation, described by Time magazine as the “Oscars of the food world”.


The event, dubbed “Flavors of New Zealand”, was hosted by New Zealand’s consul general in New York, and included a themed luncheon followed by an evening banquet featuring handpicked ingredients from 14 producers, matched with wine varieties from eight vineyards represented by Complexity Fine Wine Group. . .

An insatiable thirst for knowledge

Each day, as he goes around the dairy farm he manages, checking on the health and welfare of his human and animal friends and the land they share, Jason Halford carries with him two other dairy farmers.

“Geoff Arends is on my left shoulder and Bruce McCluskey is on my right,” he says. “I look at each situation and think what they would do. One day I’m Geoff, another I’m Bruce.”

They are the farmers who have influenced him most in the 17 years since he left school at 16 to go into dairying. . .



May 29, 2011

6/10 for the NZ Herald’s Question Time.

Memo to self: read questions properly before clicking answer.

Real work better than charity

May 29, 2011

The generous support for earthquake recovery in Canterbury has been heart warming.

Money raised will go to help people in need and rebuild community facilities like sports grounds and meeting places.

Good planning and co-operation should result in more multi-purpose facilities which are better-used and less expensive for the users.

While these are an important  part of the city’s recovery the best aid for Christchurch and its people is real jobs and there’s been welcome announcements of more of those in the past week.

Kathmandu is building a new warehouse in the city:

“After examining a number of options, the board has decided to build a 5000sqm facility at Woolston in Christchurch, near our head office,” Mr Halkett said. . .

The decision also reflected the Kathmandu board’s belief in the economic future of Christchurch and its commitment to the company’s heritage in the city, he said.

Not all businesses are able to stay in the city and Christhchurch’s loss of Lion’s brewing capacity in that city has led to a $20 million expansion in Dunedin with a doubling in job numbers.

However, the company is also building a $15 million brewery in Christchurch. That investment and the jobs which come with it will be another small piece in the big recovery project.

Savings matter

May 29, 2011

One of the reasons the government is determined to get back into surplus quickly is the risk  to the economy from an over reliance on foreign borrowings.

This is one of the factors sited by Moody’s for its decision to downgrade the credit ratings of four major banks

The bank was concerned about a lack of domestic savings and high debt levels:

Moody’s analyst Marina Ip says an over-reliance on foreign borrowings was also a negative for the banks.

She says funding loans from overseas increases the risks banks face of a credit crunch if the world economy worsens.

Part of the government’s strategy to return to surplus is reducing its contribution to Kiwisaver. The reason it’s done that is simple – borrowing by the government to give people money to save isn’t really saving because the money eventually has to be paid back.

The public contribution to Kiwisaver is still very generous – $1000 when a Kiwisaver account is opened and on-going contributions. This is the easiest money most of us will ever get.

The tax credit will be halved  and the tax-free status of employer contributions will go if  National is returned to power but we’re still getting something for nothing more than deferring a small proportion of our own spending.

We’re being asked to contribute more of our own money – 3% rather than the current 2% but that’s what saving should be – setting aside some of our current earnings to secure a better income in the future. There’s no virtue in saving other people’s money, especially if it’s borrowed.

Employers’ contributions will rise to match those of employees and some are concerned about what that will cost. The answer to that is to build the employer contribution into the salary package. That reinforces the message that savings require the deferral of expenditure , having less now so we’ve got more later.

Savings matter to individuals and the country. The more we save ourselves the more we have to lend. For too many years we haven’t saved enough so individuals, businesses and governments have had to borrow from overseas.

The institutions we borrow money from also lend to the economic PIGS – Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. The less we have to rely on them the more secure our economy is.

But real savings use our own money not that borrowed from other people.

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